How hybrid work is changing the flow of our workweek

The hybrid model is changing the way we work and above all the rhythm of our workflow. — AFP Relaxnews

With remote working becoming more widespread, many companies are considering giving employees more autonomy in their work rhythm. Some are talking about letting employees manage their own schedules according to their own pace and personal obligations. But in reality, many employees have already adopted this type of organisational model.

Studies on nontraditional work schedules – that is organising one's work time in an alternative manner – have been a hot commodity in recent months, showing the extent to which employees desire greater flexibility in their professional lives. One out of two employees consider more flexible working hours to be one of the main ways employers can support productivity, according to a survey of 8,149 employees in nine countries conducted by Slack.

This is why many companies now offer their teams flexible working arrangements, whether in terms of remote working or working hours. The latter can be traditional (the famous 9 to 5 working hours referenced by the American singer Dolly Parton in her song 9 To 5) or staggered, depending on individual preferences.

Alternative work schedules are particularly widespread in the USA, where some companies introduced it as early as 2010. In the US, the traditional framework of the working week is being turned on its head.

Gone are the Mondays/Tuesdays/Wednesdays/Thursdays/Fridays devoted to our careers, and the Saturdays/Sundays to rest and personal life. American employees are now working less during the week and more on weekends, according to data from Work From Home Research cited by Fortune magazine.

More precisely 10% of Americans with a hybrid working style (a mix of in-person and remote working) don't work on one of the first five days of the week. Some 56% of them compensate for this by working on Saturdays.

Around a third of these employees do so at home (32%), while 24% prefer to work on company premises. This is undoubtedly a strategy to avoid being disturbed by the multiple distractions inherent to the weekend, such as childcare, household chores or social invitations.

While Saturday is gradually becoming a real working day, very few Americans work on Sunday – despite it being found to be the best day for sending internal emails, according to a report by Axios HQ.

Defining the new workflow

Whatever the case, the increase in Saturday working shows just how much hybridization is tending to permanently change the way we work, and above all the pace at which we do it.

“Hybrid WFH has blurred the weekday/weekend boundary," said Nick Bloom, professor of economics at Stanford University and a researcher with Work From Home Research, on X (formerly Twitter).

It may be good news for employees who want to work according to their own schedules. Early in the morning, late in the evening, during the night or even on the weekend – flexible workflows have the advantage of adapting to individual obligations, habits and desires, especially when combined with remote working.

It can be a gamechanger for those whose internal clock is incompatible with conventional office hours. And there are plenty of them: a French survey found that six out of ten employees in that country would like to work on nontraditional shifts, according to a survey conducted by OpinionWay for Monster in 2016.

But some experts are worried about the way the definition of the workweek is unraveling. They fear that the flexibility and autonomy gained will come at a high price for employees who opt for hybrid working. They may feel alone, stuck to their screens, while their colleagues have not yet started or have already finished their working day.

Shift work also requires discipline to respect the weekly days of rest. You shouldn't be tempted to reply to an email message, check your Slack notifications or reread a PowerPoint presentation – in other words, do some microtasking – on your day off.

For Nick Bloom, flexible working is above all a question of balance. "This could be good by exploiting WFH flexibility, or bad if work-life boundaries have collapsed," he explained on X. – AFP Relaxnews

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